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November 12, 2007
FME 2007 Focuses on European Community
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

FME 2007 Focuses on European Community

by Susan Smith


The latest
release of Safe Software's spatial ETL (extract, transform and load) platform, FME 2007, features several expanded enhancements that make it even easier for the European geospatial community to address data interoperability challenges associated with new national standards. Read what Safe Software President Don Murray and VP of Product Development Dale Lutz have to say about these important capabilities for European users that were introduced in FME 2007.

GISWeekly: Why the focus on the European community in the FME 2007 release?

Dale Lutz: Key to every market in Europe and any country really, is support for national formats. If you can read a country's national data and provide support for their coordinate systems, your solution will be very attractive in that market. Every country has its own coordinate systems so providing broad support for these is also important.

Don Murray: The European GIS community certainly faces some interesting challenges that FME can really help with. For example, the pan-European project, INSPIRE, aims to create a European spatial information infrastructure that delivers integrated spatial information services to users from a diverse range of sources. We've been supporting the Joint Research Centre, who is the advisor for that project and makes recommendations on how to share data. I was at a conference in Portugal put on by the European Union (EU) and one of the big things they're struggling with is how to transform data as they move it between different communities.

In Canada, we really only have to worry about one thing - just getting the data model right. In the EU, organizations face different challenges because they have different users who speak different languages. Even countries have different names depending on who the user is. So now the transformation aspect of a project is even more important. For example, how do you create database logic so that “Germany” becomes “Deutschland” for some users? This is just one small example of the massive undertaking that INSPIRE is working on.

Making data immediately available over the web so that users aren't encouraged to maintain their own is also a challenge. Our FME technology has a lot to offer organizations that are building systems like INSPIRE. Of course, as a Spatial ETL tool, FME doesn't do the web mapping visualization or the database components, but rather, it provides the plumbing between the two so that users are able to view the data in the way that makes the most sense for the underlying communities.

Dale Lutz: To illustrate the importance of format support in a viable spatial ETL solution, we only need to look at countries where we haven't been as successful. Take Norway, for example, there are very few FME users in Norway, and the reason for that can be traced to the fact that FME doesn't support the SOSI format right now. We're working with a partner to add support next year. If you can't read the national standard format, organizations won't be able to invest in your solution.

GW: Will you be able to link the national datasets of different countries?

DM: As part of the INSPIRE project, countries that are in the EU will be working to bring users data that is more seamless. As INSPIRE unfolds, our goal is to have FME perform the task of resolving different models so that the data is made available to many different communities in the most useful structure. We feel strongly that data model transformation is key to INSPIRE. There is not a standard way to perform/specify transformations at this time. The de facto standard way of doing it at this point is using our FME technology.

GW: Is the ETRS89 a coordinate system that many countries are using?

DM: It is the European Terrestrial Reference System 1989, a complete coordinate system of the earth. The idea is that each of the different countries has to come up with a scheme to move their traditional mapping onto that new grid of measurement. In Spain, FME has been used to support transforming or moving the Spanish lat/long data to ETRS89.

GW: How does Safe learn about these niche formats?

DL: The trick for us is in befriending individuals within the various mapping agencies. Either Safe or our resellers have created a pipeline to local experts who have communicated to us exactly how they're achieving a transformation from their traditional mapping reference system to a modern one. We translate that need into capabilities for our FME platform that the mass market can then use.

The GIS mass market sometimes triesto do data transformation even without knowing about Safe Software, but it is complex, time-consuming process. With FME, we can offer a solution that is a lot faster and more efficient.

GW: From your press release it appears that each country is focusing on a different standard.

DM: Many countries adopt either GML- or XML-based data standards with different data models. Indeed, part of the beauty and power of GML/XML is its expressiveness. If we look at the UK for example, they have OS MasterMap which has a different data model than the GML-based standard used in Germany. GML, as the name indicates, is not a format but rather a language to define formats. It takes a great deal of work for FME to read all the different schemas and then make them appear simple to the user. What we do is analyze the documentation that accompanies the standard and then work to make it simple for the typical user to work with.

In the U.S. you have, for example, TIGER GML (EPA has an XML based format) and NATO GML. The ability of FME to perform data model transformations is key to organizations being able to read from and write to these data models.

GML is a standard, so by using it organizations are embracing standards. GML provides a standard non-proprietary way of storing or exchanging data. There is huge value in that.

GW: Are there other countries that you'll be working with?

DL: The big initiative we are focused on now is Japan. Japan is underway with a GML standard of their own, JPGIS. We've done a lot of work over the summer on this.

There are also formats that are targeted at particular industries that we are adding support for in FME. For example, AIXM, an international aeronautical standard format used by NAV Canada, Eurocontrol and the FAA. FME also supports a number of different national formats in both New Zealand and Australia.

In fact, FMEsupports just over 200 formats now. We don't just add formats, however, we also focus a lot of effort on maintaining these formats. Formats, like anything, keep evolving. FME has played a role ins almost any country that is very far along with its mapping infrastructure.

GW: Are a lot of countries using open source for their national standards?

DL: The INTERLIS 2 plug-in from Switzerland is actually open source. FME architecture is open so it was easy for someone to write an open source plug-in that reads and writes the INTERLIS 1 and 2 format in FME.

The new formats that several countries are coming up with are open source, whereas in the past many formats have been proprietary. For example, in the U.S. much of the data in the past has been shapefiles (which does have an open spec), or coverage files, but now the movement is to make all the data available in a non-proprietary format such as OGC GML so that users are free to pick whatever tool they want creating a more level playing field for the various vendors.

GW: You released FME 2007 earlier in the summer and have made the announcement in the fall - why a gap between making the announcement and promoting the product?

DM: We timed this announcement in conjunction with a few regional user conferences in Europe that we were going to be attending. In addition to that, the development cycle for FME 2007 is ongoing and very agile. Although we put out a major release of FME 2007, we do post updated builds after the first release. There are a couple of things mentioned in the press release, like the G-trans support that were added to FME after we launched. So this press release is meant to highlight the collection of important capabilities available to the European geospatial community.

GW: What's new in FME 2007?

DM: The big story is the fact that FME can now work with raster and vector. In the past we've only worked with vector. To highlight how that ties into what we're doing for Europe, we have also added support for Sweden's G-trans technology in the form of the GtransReprojector transformer. FME is one of the few tools that can do raster reprojection using these different coordinate systems, so people can take their imagery and vector data and apply government approved methods to bring it into the modern reference frame.

GW: How about using FME with satellite imagery?

DL: Yes, the
raster support announced in FME 2007 encapsulates support for a number of different types of satellite imagery, so there would be DEMs as one type, satellite imagery another, a number of new formats are satellite formats as well as aerial photography formats so we do GeoTiff, JPEG 2000, and some of the big Landsat imagery. I would also add these hyperspectral satellite formats which have many, many bands or themes that are different wavelength measures, so they're well outside of the red, green and blue. We've been involved in an agency assembling a global dataset dealing with loading this type of
very diverse raster data into both ArcSDE and Oracle GeoRaster for future analysis. These types of things are global in scope but operate out of individual countries.

As far as databases go with raster, we recognized very early that one of the key uses of FME is to load data into databases, so right now we use both Oracle GeoRaster and ESRI ArcSDE or Geodatabase raster. Some large organizations want to put their raster data in databases so they can cut it up and serve it out in real time.

Top News of the Week

One year after delivering its first workstations based on Quad-Core Intel® Xeon™ processors, HP said customers are experiencing performance increases of up to 400 percent, with double-digit gains in productivity and faster return on investment.

Companies use HP workstations to design everything from running shoes to race cars, animated characters to deep-sea submersibles, and to manage everything from billions of dollars of tradable securities to mission-critical IT environments.

With the new version of ESRI's ArcGIS for AutoCAD software, CAD users are provided a simplified means of storing coordinate system definitions inside AutoCAD drawings, eliminating the complexities of maintaining external companion files. The new version of ArcGIS for AutoCAD now also supports AutoCAD 2008.


thincSoft, LLC announced that it has finalized an agreement with the founders of SSS Research to acquire the intellectual property rights of SSS Research.

Under this agreement, SSS Research will remain an independent consulting entity focused exclusively on delivering geospatial visualization solutions and services to the United States Department of Defense. thincSoft will focus on the growing Business Intelligence and Asset Tracking software markets with targeted Visual Intelligence™ solutions utilizing geospatial and spatial technologies originally developed by SSS Research.

3001, the geospatial company, a provider of airborne mapping and geospatial data production services, announced the purchase of the Optech Airborne Laser Terrain Mapper (ALTM) Gemini 167 kilohertz (kHz) topographic LiDAR sensor, equipped with Multipulse technology and Waveform Digitizer. Additionally, 3001 has upgraded its existing Leica airborne sensors, the ALS50 LiDAR sensor and the ADS40 digital airborne pushbroom camera, to their current-generation technology..


The use of three-dimensional geospatial data is providing value in the fire fighting efforts in California for Intermap Technologies' customers. The Company currently has high-resolution elevation data for the state of California on-the-shelf as part of its U.S. and Western European NEXTMap(R) geospatial data collection program. As previously announced, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has licensed data from Intermap for California and other regions of the nation. Under this licensing agreement, the Agency along with other agencies within the Department of Defense are utilizing Intermap's NEXTMap USA radar imagery and high resolution terrain data to support efforts
to fight the wildfires in Southern California.

TerraGo Technologies and GeoEye, Inc. have partnered to make detailed imagery in GeoPDF files available to emergency workers and relief organizations battling wildfires and serving those affected by their aftermath in southern California.

Tune in to a free online seminar this month to learn techniques for authoring maps that will help optimize the performance of both dynamic and cached Web mapping services.

Authoring and Publishing Optimized Map Services will air on ESRI's Training and Education Web site at
www.esri.com/lts on November 15 at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. (Pacific standard time).

NAVTEQ announced the launch of the NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge, the premier event for wireless LBS innovation, for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Registration opened October 29, 2007 and marks the first time a dedicated Global LBS Challenge competition will be conducted for the APAC region.

Infoterra France, a wholly-owned subsidiary of EADS Astrium and a leading provider of geo-information products and services, announces that with their Greek partner GEOMET Ltd they have won a major contract, worth over 2.86 million euros, to deliver a significant quantity of fully orthorectified imagery and Digital Surface Models (DSM) covering Greek cities. The 18 month long project, which is the biggest venture of this type ever undertaken in Europe, kicked off with ADS40 linear scanners capturing images from June to end August 2007, followed by an initial delivery in October 2007. Final delivery will take place in September 2008..


NAVTEQ Corporation reported record third quarter revenue and operating income for the quarter ended September 30, 2007. Revenue in the quarter rose 51% over the third quarter of 2006 to $214.8 million. Operating income was $50.5 million, compared to $37.0 million in last year's third quarter. Net income was $39.9 million, compared to $27.1 million in the prior year's third quarter. Earnings per diluted share were $0.40, compared to $0.28 in the third quarter of 2006. See
press release


Synergis(R) Engineering Design Solutions (EDS), a division of Synergis Technologies, Inc., announced that Steve Skarbowski, an industry expert with more than 20 years of experience in the field of GIS and mapping, has joined the company's geospatial team as a Synergis solutions engineer. Skarbowski will help the company's infrastructure and GIS customers increase their understanding of key Autodesk products, including AutoCAD Map 3D and Autodesk Topobase software, and reach out to support the greater geospatial community with his delivery of training seminars, test drives, tutorials and industry articles.

New Products

GeomMatters Technologies announces the release version 1.3.2 of TuxedoDB for ArcSDE; a powerful graphical, unique and specialized tool that centralizes the ArcSDE Administration duties.

GIS for Homeland Security, a new book from ESRI Press, chronicles the value of geographic information system (GIS) technology in a growing arsenal of technologies used to protect the nation from natural disasters, diseases, and terrorist threats.

The book by Mike Kataoka, an ESRI Press editor and former journalist, describes in nontechnical language how GIS works as a core technology for gathering and analyzing intelligence; protecting critical infrastructure; responding to forest fires, hurricanes, and other catastrophes; and planning for bioterrorism or disease outbreaks.

Around the Web

Peace of Mind When They Ask to Borrow the Car by Elizabeth Olson, November 3, 2007, The New York Times (registration required) -Some parents are adopting new technology to monitor their fledgling drivers.

Crashes and Traffic Jams in Military Test of Robotic Vehicles, by John Markoff, November 5, 2007, The New York Times (registration required) --A Pentagon-sponsored robot race at a former Air Force base here on Saturday revealed that computer-controlled vehicles, at least to date, have failings that are all too human.

Upcoming Events

Houston Area GDC GIS Day 2007 Showcases GIS Use and Promotes Geography Week

Date: November 15 - 16, 2007

Place: University of Houston Central Campus, MD Anderson Library, Houston, USA

Don't miss this year's Houston Area's GDC GIS Day 2007 Nov. 15-16, 2007 hosted at the University of Houston - Central Campus, MD Anderson Library.

Autodesk University Annual User Conference and Exhibition

Date: November 27 - 30, 2007

Place: The Venetian Resort Hotel Las Vegas, USA

The 15th annual Autodesk University (AU) at the Venetian Resort Hotel in Las Vegas is not until November, but if you'd like to teach a class, please submit your ideas by April 30th. Take a moment to submit your proposal at the AU 2007 website. After providing some personal information about your expertise on a secure server, you'll be able to submit one or more proposals for classes.

Second Annual International Airport GIS Conference

Date: November 28 - 30, 2007

Place: Kempinski Hotel Budapest, Hungary

By attending this unique conference, you will learn from European, U.S. and other international airports how and why GIS is being used at large and small airports, as well as the ways in which GIS has made airports safer and more efficient. The primary focus of the conference is to exchange new ideas, success stories and lessons learned on how GIS and related technologies are applied at airports. The conference will include presentations on how airports have used GIS to support security, operations, planning, design, construction, maintenance and much more. New geospatial technologies and approaches for applying these technologies will also be showcased. Additionally, strategies for
managing and funding a GIS program will be discussed. The conference will also have an Exhibit Area showcasing the latest GIS-related products and services.

Geodiffusion 2007

Date: December 3 - 5, 2007

Place: Montreal, Canada

The sixth edition's program will mainly focus on products and solutions from business intelligence and geospatial industry leaders: PB MapInfo and Oracle. Geospatial Data from global providers will also be part of the agenda. This event offers a unique chance to acquire expertise, discover new technologies and learn more about geospatial and business intelligence. No matter their industry segments, decision makers and C-level executives, integrators and IT managers, users and GIS experts benefit from this occasion to discuss a subject that matters to them: business intelligence and geospatial. On the agenda: kick-off reception, conferences, breakfast and luncheon meetings, hands-on lab,
exhibit hall and dinner.

3rd International conference “Earth from Space - the Most Effective Solutions

Date: December 4 - 6, 2007

Place: R&D Center Scanex Moscow, Russia

The conference is attended by around 300 participants from different countries, representatives of the world leading remote sensing programs, data processing software developers and receiving stations producers, as well as members from different organizations and leading specialist that use remotely sensed data for decision making to resolve a variety of practical tasks: from management of territories and big industrial facilities to real-time monitoring.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.